The Total Program

Your varsity, JV, freshman and junior high programs should be in sync and the coaches of all teams in frequent communication. The varsity coach should initiate regular meetings and shared expectations and resources. The coaches of the younger teams have a responsibility to adhere to the policies and training practices (if safe and appropriate) of the varsity program. After all, the entire goal of any young athlete is to eventually participate at the varsity level.

Points to Remember:

  • With different coaches for each team, expect different styles of coaching. Everyone is entitled to develop their own sense of leading kids. The important thing is that however unique or different your styles, you should all be striving for the same goals and be working within the same basic philosophies.
  • Progression is vital to the overall development and success of athletes. Junior high athletes should be practicing a bit less in terms of time and intensity. These athletes should learn fundamentals and begin to understand the concepts of cheering, teamwork and skill progression. Freshman and JV teams should have an exemplary varsity team to look up to and emulate. At this stage, athletes should continue building their skills, develop their ability to focus and become team-oriented and be part of a positive atmosphere.
  • It has become a trend of recent years to stock varsity teams with freshman and sophomores. This has become a real concern of mine, from a counseling and educational standpoint. Adolescents have varying stages of development ~ both physical and emotional. Younger teens lack the maturity to focus during intense times, need a more secure and nurturing acceptance into their own peer groups and are simply not at the same comprehension level as older adolescents. Kids need time to develop progressions, understand teamwork and commitment and work on the physical skills needed for a varsity level. Try not to be tempted to pack the varsity with too-young kids for the sake of some trophy. It just is not worth what it will end up costing your kids in the long run in terms of feelings of self-worth and success.
  • All teams in a program should have similar practice routines. Once in a while, all teams should warm-up together or have gymnastics as a large group. This encourages inter-team bonding, allows the varsity to be good role models and ‘coaches’ and gives the opportunity to the younger ones to see their mentors in action. You might also organize potluck or pizza dinners or a Big Buddy ~ Little Buddy program to encourage communication and friendship between teams.
  • If problems occur between coaches and coaching philosophies, remember that you are the ‘Adult in Charge’ and face your differences. Resist the temptation to talk about coaching matters in front of your team and seek a solution that everyone on the coaching staff can live with. Let the kids see that their coaching staff works effectively as a team.
  • Do not allow jealousy or negative talk between teams. Keep the goal of all teams to be excellence for your school and program.

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